I’ve been living in a Muslim country for more than 5 years now. The first time I came here, I was woken up by the prayer in a mosque nearby. I thought I was dreaming. For a while there, I felt lost and confused as to where I am at that moment. I hear the Muslim prayer everywhere: in the bus, in the supermarket, even in the ringtones of some Muslims. I got used to it eventually. Even if I don’t understand it, it felt sacred and peaceful.
Everywhere around, you can see a mosque. Muslims pray 5 times each day called salah. I admire their faith and dedication. Almost everyone greets you Assalamualaikum (peace be upon you). Everyone calls each other brother or sister. It makes me think that Muslim people are peace-loving people in general. But it makes me confused as to why there is war in the Middle Eastern countries.
I was able to embrace the Muslim culture. I have a very high respect for the Muslim community. I have learned some Arabic words like Bismillah (in the name of Allah/God), Masha’allah (in God’s will, or something as an expression of appreciation), Insha’allah (God-willing), and some other positive or good Arabic words that use to praise or greet a Muslim.
I still preserve my Christianity though. I was born and raised a Catholic and I still observe the Catholic traditions. I am very thankful for this country for allowing other people to practice their religion. I was taught in Catholic school to respect other religions as well, because we all pray to one God.
I am not purely religious though. Religion doesn’t dictate my faith. My faith is between God and me; respect in humanity, in all living things, and the world we live in.
Being in a Muslim country has taught me the true meaning of Faith. It taught me that we are all brothers and sisters regardless of race and religion. I still don’t understand why there is war though. But one thing I’ve learned is that, being a Muslim doesn’t associate one as being a terrorist.
I love my Muslim brothers and sisters. Peace be upon you. Assalamualaikum.
Last night, after my husband and I stuffed ourselves with sushis, teriyaki, and udon, we finally decided to go home. At the lobby of our building, we saw this Pakistani vendor holding a cart full of fruits and vegetables struggling to balance the boxes so it won’t fall off. Here in UAE, if you’re too lazy to go to the store or market to buy something, you can call someone to deliver it for you free of charge. When we entered the elevator, this vendor looked hesitant and too shy to share the elevator with us and patiently waited for the next elevator. So I called out to him and asked him if he wanted to use the elevator with us. He gestured something I understood as, “Really? You don’t mind?”
Inside the elevator, I asked the vendor if somebody asked him to deliver all those fruits and vegetables because it’s a lot. He smiled and told me, “Maloum Arabi?” (Can you understand Arabic). I said, “Aahh…shueya.” (a bit). Then he started talking in fast Arabic and I was trying to catch each word that he said so my face was all contorted like that. Then I said, ” Aahhh…for cooking?” even if I didn’t understand a thing. When he reached his floor, he was still talking in fast Arabic and said, “Shukran!” (thank you). And I answered, “afwan!” (not at all).
My husband was so amazed. He told me he didn’t know I could understand Arabic. Then I was like, what? I didn’t even understand a word he said. I just pretended I did. Then he burst out laughing. He said I looked too convincing. He could’t believe that I didn’t know what the vendor was saying because my face looks like I understood every word he said. He was laughing hysterically that I had to signal him to lower down his voice because we might disturb the tenants. He was trying so hard to suppress his laughter that I couldn’t help but laugh also. We looked like two drunken couple who couldn’t walk straight because of our suppressed laughter.
Well, that’s what I do at work. Almost all patients are talking in Arabic. I just let them talk nonstop then I will just answer, “aaaahhhh….” Works all the time. See, I even fooled my husband.😁